Marx Lee, Non-Places at Annka Kultys Gallery, Hackney Road, London E2 – You never quite know what you’re going to get at Annka Kultys Gallery but you know that a good percentage of what happens in that rather formal rather unassuming white cube of a space above a shop by Cambridge Heath station on the Hackney Road is going to be worth your time. Non-Places, “an augmented reality installation of new bodies of work by the Swiss artist Marc Lee”, opened with not much fuss on a quiet Thursday evening, there weren’t many people there but those of us who did know it was happening were well rewarded From what we could work out, the exhibition, and it is very much an exhibition in an art gallery, the exhibition is an exhibition of four interactive works, each one apparently using some kind of mobile app as an interface and everything projected in a rather big way on to the walls of the gallery. The fact that it is projected in a gallery, big colourful ever-moving pieces on the white walls is important, we could be at home looking at it on a computer screen or heaven forbid a tiny phone as we ride on a bus ignoring the world and in all honestly it wouldn’t mean that much to anyone besides the ubergeek, but this is a gallery, a formal gallery and just by being in here the art, it is in a gallery, this is an art show, it must be art, by being in here things are looked at in a different way. This is art on a gallery wall, a different state of mind is required, a little more time spent considering, engaging, questioning, stating the obvious I know but they have been questioning the way we view things in a rather stimulating way with quite a few of the recent shows at the Annka Kultys Gallery. This Marc Lee show is exciting, not sure if it really should be, I have no real interest in apps or computer screens or phones, I don’t even have Facebook on mine and I’m still not sure about steam-powered looms, this however, geek or not, is a compelling show
The artworks explore how globalization creates “places without a local identity” – as described in Marc Augé’s essay Non-Lieux (1992) – and stimulate a reflective attitude based on a novel “immersive confrontation” with the digital society of our time.. On one wall is projected 10.000 Moving Cities – Same but Different, Mobile App (2018). The work employs a mobile app as interface to create a net-based installation. 10.000 Moving Cities – Same but Different, Mobile App deals with urbanisation and globalisation in the digital age. The app’s user navigates through an urban environment of his choice. The landscape is constantly reshaped and redefined by posts on the social networks Freesound, Instagram and Twitter. Here these personal impressions are streamed in real time like windows to our changing world. The viewer participates in the social movements of our time and makes a virtual journey into constantly new image and sound collages in which one experiences local, cultural and linguistic differences and similarities. In virtual space, this information is visualized on cubes that rise at different heights akin to an urban skyline. As such, the work deals with how our cities are continuously changing and how virtual space is increasingly mimics urban space. On an adjacent wall is presented a moble app game entitled Me, Myself and I (2018). Me, Myself and I questions egocentrism and narcissism as widespread contemporary phenomena as manifest through their most popular, infamous declination: the selfie culture. The digital era emphasises how individuals perceive themselves increasingly at the centre of, rather than merely being part of, society.
In Me, Myself and I the participant floats virtually in a self-absorbed ego-relationship with herself above an urban, futurist cityscape that is continuously regenerated. The user sees herself rapidly projected into the virtual environment countless times, as another way to replicate over and over again her ego. The virtual environment is entirely dominated by her ego as translated by the selfies the tablet takes, that is, by the many images of the user that populate the cityscape. The virtual environment rotates as the user rotates the device with the sky showing as the tablet is moved upwards, for example. By tilting it downwards the ground appears. At the same time, flight direction can be adjusted, as can the flight speed. The sound is responsive and reacts to the movement and flight speed of the user
The whole show is extremely interactive, it demands interaction, it demands involvement, although even if you are content to stand of the side and watch others do the interacting and the whatever the hell they’re doing, it is rather addictive, it is compelling, it is hard to leave, hard to pull yourself away from the ever moving screens and the different flavours of tweet from the different parts of the globe, the “kaleidoscopic view of an urbanised cityscape full of egos”, it is compelling, I guess it kind of was in those game arcades years ago. I like this gallery, they don’t get things right every time, they so often do though, I like this show, I like the questions it throws out, the relationships we have with galleries, with technology, with our screens, I like the constantly change kaleidoscope of faces, who are these people? Look at me me me, what is going on? Concepts in virtual reality the concept of ‘Non-places’, real people though, this is what we’re doing, real reality, nothing virtual, transit points, references, contradictions, faces in bubbles, faces flying past, 10.000 Moving Cities – Same but Different,
Hey look, why do we do this Organ thing? Because there’s so much going on that just doesn’t get covered, so much exciting art undocumented, unannounced, unexplored, this is an important art show, an important gallery event, it serves to be recorded, instagrammed, shared on Twitter…. “Nonplace renders visually and conceptually in virtual reality the concept of ‘Non-places’ which Marc Augé describes in his book and essay of the same name. According to Augé: “Super modernity produces non-places, meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological spaces and which do not integrate to earlier places … A world where people are born in the clinic and die in hospital, where transit points and temporary abodes are proliferating under luxurious or inhuman conditions (hotel chains and squats, holiday clubs and refugee camps, …; where a dense network of means of transport which are also inhabited spaces is developing; where the habitué of communicates wordlessly, through gestures, with an abstract, unmediated commerce (i.e., credit card transactions); a world thus surrounded by solitary individuality.”. (sw)
MARC LEE is at Annka Kultys Gallery until 25th May 2019. 472 Hackney Road, Unit 3, 1st Floor, London E2 9EQ Thursday – Saturday | 12 pm – 6 pm or by appointment Red door by the bus stop, a minute or so from Cambridge Heath Station